#SwiftFicFriday W104 – Vote!

#SwiftFicFriday W104 – Vote!

Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!


Harold

It was summer, 1959. I was twelve, had a brand new sparkling CCM. In those days, the side roads of our town pretty much belonged to kids.

Kids on bikes.

One day, July, furnace-hot, I went exploring. We had lots of country roads in our town, just beyond the urban boundaries. We had the sea to the east. But north, south, and west, valleys and mountains and mystery awaited.

An hour in, baking in the sun, sweating like a pig, biking along this peaceful country road and suddenly two stupid geese waddled in front of me, one snapping at the other.

I went ass over handlebars onto the soft dead grass in the dry ditch.

Then this old man, looking like he just spotted a Martian, lumbered down a short lane and got close to me all sprawled out and asked, “You okay, boy? That was some tumble. You an acrobat?”

He helped me out of the ditch and escorted me down his lane to a small porch “Set yourself down, boy,” and I pretty much fell into an old easy chair he had there.

He then went out to the road and wheeled my bike back to the house. “Seems okay. Spokes ain’t broke. That surely was quite a tumble.”

He went into his house and then came out with a jug of water and two glasses.

We sat and talked for hours. Harold Winters was his name, eighty-two that summer, and he had spent a lifetime alone, working in mines, in the woods, ‘farming a piece up in the Peace River for a spell’.

I visited Harold most of that summer. He had great stories of life…life before me. I didn’t have grandparents, so he filled that void.

He died that winter.

By then I’d stopped visiting.

300 words by Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)

Clarisse Krause moaned primal pleasure as she slid the soapy cloth over Purdy’s hard custom contoured shell. Anticipating the shine on her pride and joy was pure dopamine. Clarisse was going to get every speck of dirt all the way down to the undercarriage. She was so focused she barely heard the voices around the other side of the truck stop diner.

“Did you see all those weird weapons on the walls?” a girl Clarisse’s age scoffed.

“Yeah, I bet that old guy even thinks he knows how to use all of them,” her companion added.

“Gawd, what if he actually does?”

“The food was pretty good though.”

The pair laughed as they climbed into their dusty range rover. Even completely engrossed in pampering her pink jeep Clarisse recognized the voices of the road-trippers who came in just as she was getting off shift. The slam of the diner’s back door told her Stuart had thoughts on them too.

“Damn kids,” the owner grumped. “No respect!”

Clarisse cooed to Purdy as she continued her careful lathering. Her senses were too trained to tune anything out, even her miffed mentor, but she didn’t have to show she was listening.

“You know, there was a time when monster hunters were respected! Venerated!” Stuart continued.

Clarisse rolled her eyes, “Even you’re not old enough to remember that, Stuart!”

“Doesn’t it bother you, not being recognized for what you’re really good at?”

Clarisse rolled out from under Purdy and rose to toss her soapy cloth in its bucket.

“The only thing that bothers me is not being paid enough to drop the waitress side gig.”

Stuart sighed as he handed Clarisse the hose.

“Just once, I’d like someone to look at me the way you look at that jeep.”

“Don’t hold your breath.”

299 words by David A Ludwig (@DavidALudwig)

The beast gripped our captain by the arms, lifted him high, roared into his face, then tore him apart.

Him.

HIM.

The strongest, most venerated of us all. And despite my best effort, I couldn’t look away.

“Mandar! DO something!” Sylia begged behind me.

“Like what?” I softly replied, still looking on, unblinking, as the beast tore off a leg, ate it whole, then tossed the rest of the carcass aside to bleed into the snows. “He’s in pieces. The beast has won. We can’t stand against it now.”

“Mandar…” Sylia repeated, her voice softened. “It’s you who’s left to lead us now.”

I felt her hand stroking my shoulder. Around us, the shrubs we hid within scraped and contorted in the snowy wind.

“Take command,” she said. I felt her hand squeeze my shoulder, hard. “Lead. Onward to battle and death and glory, or away to live and fight another day. But LEAD!”

She shoved me from behind, and if not for catching myself upon the thick, jutting rootwork of the bluewood tree in front of me, I might have tumbled out into the open snow, and become the next course for the beast to devour.

I stood, dusted the snow from my cloak and trousers, and turned to face our company, all crouched in the snow, all watching me with anticipation in their eyes. Or was it fear? Quaking, unadulterated terror? Or maybe I was projecting–

“Mandar?” Sylia asked, standing.” Shall we engage the beast?” Her hand gripped the handle of her sword, her breath emerging in thick white puffs.

Alright then.

I unsheathed my blade, whipped round, and pointed it at the killer of our captain, the destroyer of Gloryvale village, the murderer of Mount Whitestone. “Company–” I shouted. “Let’s get the living snow outta here. RUN!”

300 words by J.M. Avants (@jmavants)

“Were you ever married?”

She shrugged. “Yeah. It didn’t work out.”

“Why not?” Chester had the grace to blush. “I mean, if it’s not too painful to talk about.”

She sighed and rubbed her thighs. “It is and it isn’t. The memories aren’t very good. He was a mean bastard, and not just when he was drunk. So I joined the Army and he couldn’t do anything to me then.” It wasn’t that simple, but the details weren’t important anymore.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

She nodded. “Thanks. It took me a while to realize that I’m not sorry.”

He raised his eyebrows. “You’re not?”

Hermione shook her head with a smile. “Nah. He taught me a lot, including how to stand up to him, how to find solutions when there appeared to be none, and made me a helluva lot stronger. He taught me warning signs, and what I didn’t want. I don’t exactly venerate him, but I’m grateful for the harsh lessons I learned from him.” She let a smirk curl her lips. “It became very easy to spot abusers, even those who were sweet talkin’ authority to get away with hurting their spouses.”

“What gave them away?”

She shrugged. “The smooth ones are all dismissive and friendly, like they’re trying too hard to find the bros who are the same. But they carry the meanness in their eyes. My ex wasn’t as smooth, but he had a whole network of bros to vouch for his character. It didn’t work nearly as well when I joined the Army while he was at work. Once I signed on the dotted line, he couldn’t do anything about me leaving.”

282 words by Siobhan Muir (@SiobhanMuir)

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